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Best of Toronto

The Best Bubble Tea in Toronto

Posted by Darren "DKLo" Susilo / November 30, 2012

Bubble Tea TorontoThe best bubble tea in Toronto is, surprisingly, not exclusive to the suburban areas. While the frozen tundras of Chinatown North (inexplicably written in some maps as Markham and Richmond Hill) still lay claim to the largest number of people whose weekend nights consist exclusively of sipping a tapioca-laden milk tea and chatting animatedly with friends, there has been a largely unnoticed growth of excellent bubble tea shops in the city of Toronto proper.

This, coupled with the fact that many of these uptown cafes also have locations south of the 401, has meant a proliferation of places where you can sample this popular Taiwanese invention all across town.

Here are the best bubble tea places in Toronto.

Posted by Darren "DKLo" Susilo. He hangs out on the twitter and his own mansion.

Chatime

Chatime

You wouldn’t know it from looking at its unfortunately shabby exterior, but Chatime is part of a very well-established international chain of bubble tea shops. With a large array of customizable options (my personal favourite being the refreshing passionfruit tea) along with extremely helpful staff, it’s easy to understand why this multinational group is a big success worldwide. The only downside is their lack of seating options, making this a great takeout, but not necessarily hangout, option. Also, it’s not “chat-time” (as in talking to your friends) but rather “cha-time” (which is the Chinese word for tea). More »

Green Grotto Tea Room

Green Grotto Tea Room

Hailed by many fans as one of the founding fathers of the suburban Toronto bubble tea scene (a Mt. Rushmore-like sculpture is being readied somewhere, I’ve been told), Green Grotto provides fresh bubble tea sans the powdery taste and feel that many purists scoff at, in a cozy environment resplendent with WiFi and tons of reading material. While its Highway 7 location provides an array of magazines not uncommonly found at other bubble tea places, the Warden location actually offers books (and free popcorn), which creates the charming effect of having a fusion library-cafe of sorts. More »

Go For Tea

Go For Tea

Winner of the least subtle call-to-action within a business name award, Go For Tea provides your regular assortment of bubble teas and slushes in an upscale environment. They are (quite rightly) proud about the rather posh interior decoration, which wouldn’t look out of place in some of the more chic spots in Asia, and they also provide one of the most comprehensive food options in a bubble tea place. Whereas other spots’ offerings are mostly limited to snacks, one can easily get full meal combos here, such as the always divine pairing of popcorn chicken and rice with a cold honeydew milk tea. More »

Fruit Jungle

Fruit Jungle

I have personally never seen a tea establishment quite as wonderfully chaotic as Fruit Jungle. Despite seemingly unable to make up their mind over what the name should be (I’ve seen signs that show their name as Food Jungle), this place is adamant in using 100% real fruit juice in their beverages. All their teas taste quite different from what one is normally accustomed to, which is a testament to how much powdered stuff is out there. Try carefully reading their jungle (ha ha) of colourful papers that they stick all over the front of the counter advertising their various flavours. It's a total mess, but adds a kitschy charm and can whittle away the better part of your afternoon before you notice it. More »

Ten Ren's

Ten Ren's

Yet another popular international chain, Ten Ren's offers a stunning array of bubble teas, along with more traditional Chinese teas, at their many locations. One of their most popular spots is located in Richmond Hill, which provides unique tea slushes (such as the green tea and red bean slush), along with a fascinating menu selection where almost everything is tea-flavoured , which tastes a lot better than it seems, such as the delicious green tea dumplings. The prices are a bit higher than most typical bubble tea joints, but they do offer one of the more upscale environments in town. More »

Destiny Tea Cafe

Destiny Tea Cafe

If you walk in here uninformed and unprepared on a weekend night, you’d be forgiven to think that you just got teleported into the middle of Hong Kong/Taipei/Shanghai, such is the large Asian population present within its spacious walls. Destiny is arguably the main bubble tea hangout spot for the suburban Chinatown residents (it has another, even bigger location up at the large East Beaver Creek conurbation of restaurants). With its ultra-spacious feel, ample seating, modern interior, large assortment of teas and snacks, along with techno music (OK this one’s a bit odd), it is a wonderful (con)fusion of bubble tea cafe and lounge-wannabe. Definitely an experience to savour, though they do use powdered flavouring quite liberally in their teas. More »

One Hour

One Hour

In contrast to the blizzard of confusion that is Fruit Jungle (not to mention the lack of seats), One Hour is one of the most serene- and minimalist-looking bubble tea places I’ve ever seen. It features simple wooden tables with beanbag chairs, perfect for study or hangout sessions. The bubble teas here are smooth-tasting and refreshing (one particular standout is the taro bubble tea-with a bit of gritty texture that accentuates the authenticity of the ingredients), but by far the most unique aspect of the place is its overall ambiance. If you ever wondered if there was ever a bubble tea place that felt a little hipster-like, then wonder no more. More »

Tsaa Tea Shop

Tsaa Tea Shop

Though I’m still not sure how to pronounce this place’s name (Do they mean cha? As in the Chinese word for tea? Why don’t they opt for the easier spelling?), Tsaa Tea Shop serves up excellent tea and is an excellent place to go if you have a craving for bubble teas in the rather unlikely location of Greektown. Their menu has much more Western offerings, such as lattes, than most of the other tea places on this list, but their bubble teas are nothing to scoff at, with real fruits and large serving sizes. Heck, the fact that you’re sitting by the Danforth and NOT having gyros is probably something worth experiencing in itself. More »

CL Tea House

CL Tea House

While this tea house’s name stirs up images of soccer in my head (due to CL usually being associated with Champions League), it is in fact a cute and underrated bubble tea shop in the Village by the Grange mall. Bright and cheerful (though without a dedicated seating spot of its own), it provides a combination of bubble teas and smoothies, and often have daily specials for under $2, which really can’t be beat. One of my favourites is the thick and creamy avocado smoothie, made with real fruit. The place is simple and a little bit different, which makes it fit right in with the rather off-kilter mall. More »

Discussion

59 Comments

skazzers / November 30, 2012 at 09:24 am
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DESTINY?!?!!?!?!? DESTINY ON THIS LIST? Now you lose all credibility.
Jose replying to a comment from skazzers / November 30, 2012 at 09:48 am
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I agree. Destiny fell off a long time ago.
dazzlechild / November 30, 2012 at 10:56 am
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Gotta agree with the posters above. Destiny is not a good place. They may have the most extensive food options, but the tea is only ok, and the service is pretty bad...last time I went, they gave us, a table of 6, 1 menu. 1!!! then they looked at us as I'd we were nuts when we wanted one menu per person!
bob / November 30, 2012 at 11:02 am
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Bubble tea should be banned like shark fin soup was...Disgusting!!
Patricia / November 30, 2012 at 11:03 am
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TenRen's and Go for Tea have the best quality of tea!
BigBandCollection / November 30, 2012 at 11:34 am
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They finally updated the list! Glad to see Chatime @ #1 and 168 nowhere to be seen on the list LOL.
jwei / November 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm
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OMG I'm so torn about this list. On one hand I love Chatime and am glad that more people now realize how good their teas are! On the other hand, the lines will now be even longer than they already were......
jwei replying to a comment from skazzers / November 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm
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At least they not in the top 5.
jt / November 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm
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Finally #1 we can all agree on. Chatime definitely offers the best bubble tea in Toronto. #2 is not bad either though a bit on the pricey side.
Ash replying to a comment from bob / November 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm
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Last time I checked, bubble tea wasn't doing anything to brutally kill animals...it's cute though that you think any food that you don't like should just be banned! If somebody could get on with banning corn syrup, I know I'd be on board!
Stra / November 30, 2012 at 03:09 pm
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bubble tea is bad for you. that's all.
jt replying to a comment from Stra / November 30, 2012 at 04:32 pm
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Yes the fake powdered stuff is bad for you. At Chatime they use actual tea so as long as you don't go crazy on the sugar, I reckon its better for you than Starbucks or Timmy's.
Tea > Coffee
fozzie bear / November 30, 2012 at 04:53 pm
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Glad to see a Fruit Jungle mention. Out of all the food court stand/non sit down bubble tea places, Fruit Jungle is def the best one. The pear + green tea there is my go to.
Sarah / November 30, 2012 at 04:54 pm
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I love bubble tea but someone explain to me why do you have to pay extra for tapioca?!?!?! Isn't the whole point of going to a bubble tea shop to get BUBBLE TEA? Otherwise it's just milk tea.
And why it is so expensive?????
Cancer / November 30, 2012 at 07:47 pm
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Bad news for fans of the colorful novelty drink called tapioca tea, or boba tea: The sugary specialty beverage, generally milk-based and filled with chewy balls of tapioca, may also include cancer-causing chemicals known aspolychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, the Daily News reports.

German researchers from the University Hospital Aachen have reportedly found traces of the carcinogenic chemical in tapioca ball samples. The tapioca was taken from an unnamed chain in northwest Germany and originated in Taiwan, according to the Daily News.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/05/bubble-tea-tapioca-pearls-may-cause-cancer-study-claims_n_1856152.html
Mike Hunt replying to a comment from Cancer / November 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm
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Chatime is delicious, I'll take my chances. Almost everything is carcinogenic these days
jwei replying to a comment from Cancer / December 1, 2012 at 04:26 pm
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Actually the sample tapioca was taken from McDonald's (which started selling bubble tea in Germany) and produced in Germany.
jwei replying to a comment from Patricia / December 1, 2012 at 04:33 pm
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You obviously haven't tried Chatime drinks. Once you try Chatime, you won't be able to drink any other bubble tea so be warned!
kirkj / December 2, 2012 at 03:15 am
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I agree, Chatime is miles better than the other places. Is there only the one store on Dundas?
ls replying to a comment from kirkj / December 2, 2012 at 05:57 pm
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Yes, I believe this is their only store.
Gingerbread / December 2, 2012 at 09:23 pm
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Bubble Republic Tea House in Mississauga. How did that not even make it to the list?!?!?!

http://www.yelp.ca/biz/bubble-republic-tea-house-mississauga
Sofia / December 2, 2012 at 09:57 pm
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Thanks for the great list! Re: Tsaa Tea Shop on the Danforth: "Tsaa" translates to tea in Tagalog. Judging from the name of the person being interviewed the name is a Filippino one so it makes sense that they would name "tea" in their native tongue.
Patricia replying to a comment from jwei / December 3, 2012 at 03:33 am
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Good to know. I will give it a try and let you know.
DKLo replying to a comment from kirkj / December 3, 2012 at 04:16 pm
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I believe so. There's tons worldwide though so if you travel almost anywhere in the world, there's always one. Sort of :)
iridescence replying to a comment from DKLo / December 3, 2012 at 09:46 pm
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Great job with the post! We know you're legit when Chatime is #1 and 168 doesn't make it on the list :) #2-#10 all pretty much taste the same to me though. Anyone else notice that?
Js / December 4, 2012 at 01:46 pm
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Agree with Gingerbread! Bubble Republic MUST BE on the list! Their magic milk tea is the best bubble tea ever!!
Sofia replying to a comment from Js / December 4, 2012 at 03:50 pm
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I used to think Bubble Republic was slightly better than 168 but ever since trying Chatime and even Fruit Jungle, I'd have to agree with the author and not include Bubble republic on the list. The last visit there, the "tea"was no more than coloured sugar water and ice. Their so called caramel pudding is not even real pudding, its premade jelly! Thats not to mention their horrible decor.....
Patricia replying to a comment from jwei / December 5, 2012 at 01:37 pm
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I went the next day to try it as I was in the area and it would not make my #1 list.
The tea was blend, and the orange slice was not necessary. Fun place!
Rora / December 8, 2012 at 07:23 pm
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Go For Tea is gross (tea is powdery and artificial tasting) and their service is terrible.
sashatb replying to a comment from Patricia / December 8, 2012 at 07:31 pm
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Their milk teas are to die for. I can't get enough.
huy nguyen replying to a comment from iridescence / December 10, 2012 at 05:01 am
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i assumed u have tried all#2-#10 to made a comment like that
huy nguyen replying to a comment from iridescence / December 10, 2012 at 05:11 am
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replying to a comment from Iridescence
takashi / December 19, 2012 at 09:58 am
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Chatime certainly deserves to be #1 as its the only place that actually uses "tea" in their "bubble tea". Anyone one know when they will open more shops? It's tough trekking all the way downtown for a bubble tea =(
Alex / December 25, 2012 at 02:03 pm
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And why is bubble tea is so expensive????? A small one from Ten Ren set me back 5.50! How much does it cost at Chatime? I have yet to go.
iridescence replying to a comment from Alex / December 26, 2012 at 02:18 pm
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Cheaper than Ten Ren IIRC and certainly much better, especially the milk teas.
iridescence replying to a comment from huy nguyen / December 26, 2012 at 02:19 pm
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Yes other than the last one on the list.
to_dt replying to a comment from Alex / December 28, 2012 at 11:31 am
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It's 4.75 for a regular bubble milk tea at Chatime.
Paul replying to a comment from Sarah / January 27, 2013 at 04:21 am
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Yes i found it strange. Not sure they have that option like this in Taiwan. But back then when I was in TAiwan I always order the bubble tea with tapioca. They never ask me for that option to put tapioc or not. Not sure about now but bubble tea is suppose to have tapioca. I think some people prefer just the drink without tapoica. Maybe that's how they attract more people to buy their drinks. Or maybe Topioca is too expensive so that is why they ask for extra charge.
Derek / February 14, 2013 at 02:17 am
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I have been to many many bubble tea places in Toronto as well as in Hong Kong. Green Grotto is by far the most authentic in terms of taste of bubble tea. Was told this place was running since the early 90s. No wonder always crowded.
Tzucheng / March 15, 2013 at 06:04 pm
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Chatime OMG YES! Its so good! Thank you for the recommendation!
Alison / March 15, 2013 at 06:30 pm
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My sister in law got me hooked on bubble tea. Sounds like I'll have to try Chatime.
to_dt replying to a comment from Paul / April 12, 2013 at 11:25 am
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The regular teas come with tapioca but the non-tea ones don't and you have to add them.
ediface / April 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm
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OMG I have never in my life seen so many people lining up for a bubble tea! The lines are long but it does move quite quickly so the wait isn't too bad. Totally worth it though. Best bubble tea I've EVER had. I'm craving one now as we speak....
ediface replying to a comment from ediface / April 27, 2013 at 10:56 pm
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@Chatime of course!!
What're you doing Canada / June 7, 2013 at 09:04 pm
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IT'S PRONOUNCED BOBA
garcinia cambogia fruit / July 15, 2013 at 07:26 am
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I used to be recommended this website through
my cousin. I am not positive whether or not this post is written through him as no one else realize such designated about my trouble.
You're amazing! Thanks!
Alex / September 23, 2013 at 07:25 pm
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Would be nice to paddle on saturn SUP inflatable paddle board while sipping nice bubble tea. I just got from http://www.boatstogo.com/surfboards.asp and it is nice as a table for cofee or tea.
tea lover / November 22, 2013 at 03:12 pm
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Should have renewed the post and add @COMEBUY on the list!
super good newly opened teashop, just beside muchmusic building
compared to other teashop, they provide the best customer service i have ever had, definitely give it a try!
Bubble Tea Fan / November 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm
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I just tried Come Buy myself -- friendly staff, and very nice milk tea. Totally comparable with Chatime.

HOWEVER! What's not on this list and should be, is Easy Drink Easy Go (on Yonge St, in between the Finch and North York Centre subway stops.) Small shop with GREAT staff and beautifully crafted drinks. Everything I've had there has been excellent (especially their Hokkaido Milk Tea.) It's a blink-and-you-may-miss it shop, just down the street from the newly opened Chatime North York. A must-try for any Bubble Tea Fan.
jwei replying to a comment from tea lover / December 22, 2013 at 01:27 pm
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Nice shill comment. Tried Comebuy but unfortunately its no different than your run of the mill 168's, Bubble Tease and Destiny. Also read that Comebuy was found to be selling CARCINOGENIC tapioca in both Germany and Taiwan. Wish I had known that before giving their drinks a try. If you're in the area, stick with 168. For the exact same quality, its half the price.
soraskies / January 22, 2014 at 08:37 pm
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FORMOcha at yonge and eglinton should be on this list. It would easily be in my top 3, especially their FORMOcha milk tea, half sweet, less ice. The bubbles are the perfect chewy consistancy! It's pretty nice and really small inside but it's a quiet place, perfect for studying, with free wifi. They don't have real food options but they have a nice array of desserts like cheesecake and donuts and the prices are very reasonable.
jwei replying to a comment from tea lover / February 3, 2014 at 04:03 pm
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Comebuy already closed down less than 5 months after opening. I guess word spread about their carcinogenic tapioca.
aaa / February 11, 2014 at 09:06 pm
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Seriously? One Hour? How much did they pay you to put them on the list?
dashboard dashcam camera / February 15, 2014 at 12:29 pm
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rangeroversport / March 6, 2014 at 01:11 am
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Bubble tea, boba milk tea, pearl milk tea - whatever name you want to call it, Chatime to me is the best, bar none.
Paul / March 26, 2014 at 09:03 am
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Green Grotto Tea Room is very good but i don't even consider it's top 2. I think the only good ones are Chatime, Formacha ( not on the list, and Ten ren. The thing i dislike about Ten ren is that a small size cost at least 8 dollars or more. All the bubble tea places in Toronto aren't cheap. If you go to Taiwan. It's much cheaper.
Alex / August 18, 2014 at 07:29 am
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Why is it soooooooooooo expensive?????
John / October 26, 2014 at 07:06 am
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@Paul how good is good to be on the top 2?
Nate / November 18, 2014 at 02:43 pm
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This is a great list. I have only tried out "Ten Ren's" in your list, but clearly need to try out "Chatime" since you ranked it at number one.

What else do you recommend there besides the PassionFruit Tea?

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